Category Archives: Reachers

An UNlimited Year in Review

This post marks my one year anniversary as a blogger for UNlimiters. I can hardly believe that it has been a year, and what a year it has been. I went from being unemployed, to working three part time jobs; from having Hepatitis C to being cured of the disease, and from writing once a month, to writing at least once a week. A lot has changed for me over this year, but many things have stayed the same, including the things I use every day in order to live my life Unlimited. For my anniversary post, I would like to revisit these items, and to share with you the top three I never want to be without.

My very first post highlighted an item that I used most often in my house, the crockpot. Growing up I don’t remember my Mom using the crockpot for anything other than baked beans. The other recipes I had eaten out of a crockpot left much to be desired; so at first I didn’t think I would like cooking with a crockpot. However, I was presently surprised. Crockpots are great for more than just beans, sauces and soups. You can make many delicious items in the crockpot, including desserts. It is a life saver during a busy work week or when I would rather spend time sewing than worrying about what is for dinner.

My second post featured an item I literally could not live without. I mean, I guess I probably could, but it would not be a very full or exciting life. The Hurri-Cane Crutch was introduced to me by a friend of my fathers who happened to know a guy that was trying to market a new kind of Lofstrand Crutch. I have used Lofstrand Crutches since I was about 6. Ever since I was introduced to the Hurri-Cane Crutch, I have never used another, and have tried quite a variety of mobility aids in my time. These crutches are light, stylish and practically indestructible.

Finally, this post featured an item that I had seen a hundred times while being around others with disabilities. Although the reacher was a familiar adaptive tool to me, it was not something I felt I needed. I grew up in an “adapt or fail” type of household. I was taught to adapt to my environment instead of expecting it to change to accommodate me. Thus, I equated the use of certain assistive technology with laziness. However, after starting a new job, I got tired of asking people to pick things up for me; I finally cave and bought the reacher. It has increased my independence and changed my perspective on assistive technology.

Life is about change, it is about learning and growing. The person you are today might not be the person you are tomorrow. You will learn new things, form new opinions and have new experiences, but that doesn’t mean we should discount the things that stay the same. It is the unchanging things in life that give us the confidence to do all the changing along the way.

New Uses for Common Household Items

It isn’t always necessary to buy a specialized product in order to adapt the world to your needs. Often times, you can use everyday household items already at your disposal, in new and creative ways; turning them into a mobility device or another form of assistive technology.

I am always using my body and the objects around me in new ways in order to make my life easier. Sometimes this makes people nervous. For instance, I have been known to carry anything from a slip of paper, to dinnerware, in my mouth in order to avoid an extra trip. This drives my Dad crazy, he thinks I might break a tooth; but if it is good enough for my dog, it is good enough for me. Other times my ingenuity leaves people wondering “why didn’t I think of that?” and soon others, even those without disabilities, are using my methods in their daily routines.

I have a tall bar stool in my house. It is located right next to my fridge in the kitchen. It is not for sitting, even if I wanted to sit on it I couldn’t. I do, however, use it for a number of other things. First, I use it to hold my coffee cup and cereal bowl while I pour milk in the morning. This saves me from have to make trips back and forth from the table to the fridge in the morning. Secondly, I use it to carry things from one side of the kitchen to the other. I simply place the item(s) on the stool and push the stool from one place to the next. It slides very easily on the kitchen floor. Finally, I use it for stability, when sweeping or picking something up off the floor. The third instance isn’t as common, thanks to my Mint and my dog. However, it is good to have options.

Another common item that I use in uncommon ways are tongs. You can probably guess what these are for. I not only have CP, but I am also short and cannot reach past the second self in most of my kitchen cabinets. Since step stools are hard from me to climb, I often use the tongs to give me a few more inches of reach when I am in a pinch. There is a technique to using tongs, but with a bit of practice any one can master it. Though I must caution that this is not recommended for heavy or breakable items. This warning comes from personal experience.

The last item I use frequently are those reusable grocery bags. I use them to carry heavy objects, like my laptop, from room to room, especially if I am going upstairs. I can’t carry the bag on my shoulder so I hang it on my forearm, or for a hands free trip, around my neck.

Of course these tricks and techniques won’t work for everyone, but I think that all of us can benefit from thinking outside the box in order to live UNlimited.

What everyday items do you like to use in new ways?

The Assistive Technology it Took Me 30 Years to Purchase

Sometimes, I have to laugh when I tell people that I write for a company that sells adaptive equipment. You see, despite having a disability and despite the wide variety of items in existence that help people just like me, I don’t usually buy these items. Sure I have a wheelchair, a pair of crutches and grab bars in my shower, but beyond that, my house is pretty much void of any disability- specific items.

See, I was raised in a household where if you could do it, you should do it, even if it is hard. This prevented me from getting a wheelchair until tenth grade; even as in adult it has kept me from purchasing certain items that would make daily tasks easier. I tell myself, “you don’t need that, you can do it the way you always have.” This is silly, especially since I have purchase plenty of non-disability specific items over the years that make things easier. The decision to NOT purchase certain items was subconscious, and it wasn’t until I got my new job that I even realized I was doing it.

When my job asked me if I need anything in the office to accommodate my disability, the only thing I mentioned was needing enough space for my chair. Then, one day after starting my job, I dropped a number of things and had to keep asking my boss to pick them up. After the sixth time of interrupting him to retrieve a dropped item, I realized that a reacher might be in order.

A reacher is one of those items I have never considered before, despite the fact that I drop things rather frequently. I drop things so often; in fact, I trained my dog to pick them up. However, I don’t bring my dog to work, so I requested a reacher. It was waiting on my desk when I returned the next day and within minutes I realized how completely silly it was that I had never bought one before.

Now that I have used a reacher at work, I decided I will purchase one for my home, There are plenty of things I drop at home that my dog cannot, or will not, retrieve; such as pins, blocks for my quilts, and silverware. A reacher would mean that I don’t have to get down onto my hands and knees or wait for my husband to help.

If there are any of you, like me, who have spent years actively avoiding purchasing adaptive equipment, whether it is because you are ashamed, convinced you do just fine without it, or any other reason, I urge you to reconsider. I am all about independence and keeping the mobility you have, but I’ve realized I have been wasting a lot of time and energy for no reason. Using a reacher, or any other assistive device, is not a failure, it does not make me less independent or self-reliant. In fact, it increases my independence.

So go ahead and try that item. Whether it is a reacher, a cane, an adapted cup or any other item that might help you in your day to day tasks, it won’t hurt to see how many new doors will open with your new found level of independence.

Picker-up and Grabber …

Now settle down you old geezers. I am not writing about revitalizing your libido.  The Picker-up and Grabber that I have in mind is this one:

I had never even heard of this tool until I fractured my hip back in 2011.  I was introduced to it while recuperating in rehab and it has proved to be indispensable.   The grip was easy to handle and the pick-up end proved to be extremely versatile.

I remember early in my recovery when one of my get well cards slid off the bed and I didn’t want to bother a nurse or an aide for such a small item.   It was then that I first used the gripper and I was pleased to see that, not only was the rod long enough to reach, but it easily picked up the card

So now I knew that the gripper was able to pick up something as small and light as a card but what about other items?  I decided to try it out.  I picked up medicine bottles, towels, magazines and my make-up kit.  It was almost too easy and I think it was then that I decided to have fun with it.

The breakfast tray had not been picked up yet and I still had a half full cup of coffee on it. So, very carefully, I encircled the cup with the pick-up end and, making sure that I didn’t loosen my grip, I brought it to my free hand.  Voila!  It worked.   I didn’t think until after the fact about the mess it would have made if it hadn’t!

Now, as I write this, it is almost two years later.  I’ve recuperated just fine but I still rely on my Picker-upper.  It’s one of the handiest tools I have.  I use it outside for picking up litter and pine cones and inside it’s great for grabbing items that are stored up high.  It makes me wonder how I managed without it.

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